The Spectacle Blog

Webb of Lies

By on 9.18.06 | 2:52AM

James Webb, in his debate yesterday with Sen. George Allen, boasted at one point, apropos his opposition to invading Iraq: "I wrote a piece for The Washington Post six months before we went into Iraq, laying out in my view this was not about WMDs, it was about our troops being turned into terrorist targets, and that there was not an exit strategy because the people in this administration who were doing this did not intend to leave."

So I found the piece in question, "Heading for Trouble; Do we really want to occupy Iraq for the next 30 years?" which ran in the September 4, 2002 edition of the Washington Post. As its title suggests, the op-ed made perfectly defensible arguments:

The Pope and Islam

By on 9.16.06 | 4:47PM

Instapundit has a good round-up of reactions the the Muslim Street's latest hissyfit. I particularly like Jacob T. Levy's contribution, drawing the distinction between a political leader, who of course shouldn't be in the business of judging which religion is right, and a Pope, who absolutely must be in that business. The problem, of course, is that much of the Muslim world doesn't accept this distinction. And note Levy's footnote:

*(And therefore, in religious substance, the speech is a much more serious attack on various kinds of Protestantism, including the President's, than it is on Islam; the status of reason and philosophy in Islam is complicated and contested, whereas in the personal-revelation brands of Protestantism it's pretty much dismissed.)
And yet you don't see too many Evangelical Christians burning Benedict in effigy on CNN, do you?

Popish Plots

By on 9.16.06 | 2:57PM

Various and sundry Muslims are in a tizzy about Benedict's treatment of violence, Islam, and logos (that is, reason in faith). But the content of the Pope's discussion has won positive reviews from people as far apart doctrinally as paleocons and A. Sullivan.

It all suggests in heavy tones that there's a real issue here, and the scattershot offended reactions coming out of places like Turkey and Lebanon and from organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood reflect a general confusion over the danger of freely and frankly discussing identity today. Benedict's words are felt by turns to be insulting, dangerous, Crusaderist -- or so it would seem if you take the content of the backlash at face value. Don't. Here's my take on why.

Hamas Nobel Peace Prize Watch

By on 9.15.06 | 4:25PM

Shortly after Hamas's landslide victory in January's Palestinian elections, I predicted that a Hamas leader would one day win the Nobel Peace Prize. This is starting to seem more and more likely.

Reuters reports:

European Union foreign ministers agreed on Friday to back a Palestinian national unity government being formed by President Mahmoud Abbas with the Hamas Islamist movement, despite U.S./>/> misgivings.

Cheap Gas, Happy Voters?

By on 9.15.06 | 2:22PM


WASHINGTON - Consumer confidence zoomed to a seven-month high as lower gasoline prices made people feel a lot better about the current economic climate and their own financial standing.
Meanwhile, Rasmussen's daily tracking poll shows President Bush's approval ratings peaking due to "resurgence of support among the President's base." I doubt they'll break yesterday's high of 47% -- one would expect the anniversary of 9/11 the be Bush's best day of the fall -- but the new burst of economic good feelings could easily give Bush a higher floor than he's had in recent months. If that trend lasts through election day, that's got to have some effect on the results.

Re: Conservatives Against the GOP, Again

By on 9.15.06 | 1:49PM

Phil: The line you quote from Ramesh's op-ed bothered me a bit. The implication that the 1992 loss lead directly to the Contract With America approach to the '94 campaign is unfaithful to the actual history of how the Contract came about. Newt Gingrich and Dick Armey were lobbying for something like the '94 campaign from the mid-80s on, carefully shaping and reshaping an agenda that was both economically conservative at its core and made up of planks that were popular enough that most Republican candidates were willing to sign onto it. Maybe the Republican Study Committee has a similar ongoing effort underway, but unless Mike Pence and his allies are positioned to capture the leadership in the wake of a loss it's hard to see how we can count on such an agenda going anywhere.